Steven Neale 1/18/00
“The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” by Hawthorne, and The Crucible, by Arthur Miller all share similar themes and they all use different genres and forms to help express the story’s theme. The three stories all comment on Puritan beliefs and the nature of man, and they deal with the fear of the unknown and not wanting to face the truths. “The Devil and Tom Walker” is a folk tale, which uses satire to describe Puritan beliefs. “The Minister’s Black Veil” is a parable and an allegory, where the people and objects in the story all symbolize something. The Crucible is a historical drama, which deals with Puritan beliefs directly and in a serious matter.
” The Devil and Tom Walker is a folk tale which teaches a lesson and uses stock characters. The idea of stock characters is present in the character of Tom, meaning he never undergoes any change throughout the story. This story uses a lot of imagery and alliteration to help describe the forest and Tom’s house.For example, when Tom is walking through the woods, it is described, as a place that is “dark at noonday” and “the swamp was thickly grown with great gloomy pines and hemlocks.” The author gives a dark mood to the story by using so much imagery with the forest. When Tom makes the deal with the Devil and begins to make money and not care about anything else, the author is mocking society and its obsession with material things like money. Tom doesn’t even care when he finds out his wife was killed by the Devil, he even makes a joke saying she probably gave him a good fight.The story takes place just outside of Boston in the woods and it also deals with the presence of the Devil, which shows its relationship with the Crucible.
Tom is also recognized as a violent churchgoer and he only goes to church for his benefit, he is only looking for protection from the Devil. Ironically just before the Devil comes to take Tom he was foreclosing on a man’s house, who said, “You made so much money out of me,” and Tom responds, “The Devil take me if I have made a farthing.” Also when Tom seeks his bibles for protection from the Devil he is unable to retrieve both of them, so he gained no protection from God, and the Devil he made a deal with took him to hell. Irving is saying some people become so concerned with acquiring money and power that they forget to be compassionate with other people. Irving uses examples of hyperbole and writes using satire to get his point across that society is obsessed with money. He also creates a dark, gloomy feeling throughout the story just like in “The Minister’s Black Veil.”
“The minister’s Black Veil” is a parable, meaning it illustrates a lesson and it is also an allegorical story. The way Hawthorne chooses to tell the story is very important. He tells it in third person limited, through the eyes of the parishioners.In doing so we never find out the truth about the veil and it becomes a mystery to everyone around him. The main symbol in the story is the veil, which represents death and darkness. Also the veil symbolizes the secret of sin.At one point he even says, “If I hide my face for sorrow, there is cause enough, and if I cover it for secret of sin, what moral might not do the same.”The veil basically ends his life, his love left him for it and many others feel uncomfortable around him with it on.The veil also is the antagonist of the story because it creates change among the parishioners, who are the protagonists. The veil is unknown to the town and even the reader, which brings up the point of the fear of the unknown and the nature of man. The story also presents the idea of isolation, Mr. Hooper is isolated because he is different that everyone else, similar to John Proctor in The Crucible.
The Crucible is a historical story dealing with real events of the time period of the Puritans.John Proctor isolates himself when goes against the mob mentality and realizes the truth of the cases. Several innocent people died because they feared the unknown and went with what everyone else was doing.John Proctor was a man of good nature and died for his pride. The girls brought up an idea of Satan being present in Salem and the idea of witchcraft. In Puritan times this was a major event and it was extremely feared by the town and by the judges. The girls in the story lie and accuse others to save them selves because Puritan society was so strict they would have been punished severely.
When the judges realize the truth they do not want to face it because they know they made a terrible mistake and paid for it with people’s lives. “It is a lie! They are all innocent!” cried Hale realizing the truth. Mob mentality and the fear of the unknown killed those innocent people.Miller brings up the idea of selfishness; the girls will say anyone is a witch and let them die if they are protected. Similar to “The Devil and Tom Walker” people become less compassionate towards one another when their own lives are threatened. If Puritan society wasn’t so strict, if people tried to understand the unknown instead of fearing it, if people thought for themselves, and if all the characters were not so selfish innocent people wouldn’t have been killed. The same goes for Tom Walker and Mr. Hooper
Each author of the stories uses different genres and forms to help express their themes. All the stories deal with the nature of man and Puritan beliefs. They also deal with the fear of the unknown and not facing the truths. The “Devil and Tom Walker” is a folk tale, which uses satire to express the theme. “The Minister’s Black Veil” is a parable and an allegory, which uses symbols and a different point of view to help express the theme. Finally The Crucible is based on historical facts and directly relates to Puritan beliefs and the nature of man. All three stories are very similar in theme but the authors chose different forms to illustrate the theme